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There isn’t a hat stand in Roger Hunt’s office; but if there was, it would be full. Businessman, entrepreneur, Christmas tree grower, sheep farmer, scrap metal dealer and football club supporter . . . the CV is getting longer every year. “There’s a joke doing the rounds that the only person busier than me at Christmas is ‘Sion Corn’, old Father Christmas himself,” laughs Hunt. Pay a visit to his Christmas tree plantation overlooking the Tywi Valley and just up the road from Y Polyn restaurant and you’ll appreciate it isn’t so much a joke as a statement of fact. The joke is told in an accent which reveals his London and East England roots.


 

The 60-year-old former chairman of Football League side Cambridge United has travelled a long way to put his new roots down near the National Botanic Gardens. “My football links can confuse many people,” said Hunt, who spends much of his spare time helping on the executive committee of Welsh Premier League side Carmarthen Town. “I can go to football dinners and it confuses the older generation. Some will mistakenly think I’m the same Roger Hunt who played in the England World Cup winning team of 1966. I wish! “We’re obviously two very different people, but it does get a laugh on occasions when people get confused.” Born in Folkestone and raised in London, Hunt now considers himself an adopted son of Sir Gar, Carmarthenshire. “I love the place and the people and it’s a great part of the world to live and work in.” Home for Hunt nowadays is Llwyndu Farm near the ‘Botanic’, a property once owned by the very sporting Williams family, showjumper Alun and brother Wyn, father of Paralympic discus medallist Claire Williams. “I’m in the process of renovating the farmhouse, who is another of my ‘projects’. It’s a slow process as there aren’t enough hours in the day, but we are getting there.”


 

A short drive away lies Hunt’s Christmas tree plantation at Oaklands, which operates under the name Cymru Christmas Trees. The plantation has more than 10,000 Norway Spruce trees, all in different stages of development. “I specialise in Norway Spruce as it is a very popular variety, but I also supply other Welsh-grown potted varieties and Nordman trees. “Sustainability is key to the business and many of my customers, including some local councils and community organisations, return year after year. I reckon I plant at least a 1000 trees every year. The spotlight is very much on this being a sustainable crop. “If people want to return trees to me after Christmas, then they can do so for shredding. Over at Cwm Environmental in Nantycaws, they also provide a very good shredding service and throw in a free bag of compost if you recycle your tree with them.” Hunt is keen to preach the environmental message. Buying local is very important to Carmarthenshire and we should all do our bit to keep the carbon footprint down and run good sustainable businesses. Environmental matters are also at the heart of Hunt’s other business, Robinson Recycling, a leading South Wales scrap metal merchant, with a depot in Margam near Port Talbot. “We are one of the leading buyers of aluminium cans in South West Wales and we deal in all grades of ferrous of non-ferrous scrap metal. Hunt declared: I have always been focussed on recycling - even before it started to get the label ‘a green issue’. I think we should all be far more sustainable than we are. Recycling must be on the top of everyone’s agenda.” One of Hunt’s other hats is that of a sheep farmer. “We keep some Herdwick (Cumbrian) sheep on the farm, but the main flock is made up of Shropshire sheep,” he said. “The Shropshire sheep are a neat fit with the Christmas tree business as they are the only breed which can graze in and around Christmas trees. They are well fed and they also help to maintain the Christmas tree plantation. “The sheep can be a 24-hour job, especially during the lambing season between January and March. Sadly, that means I do miss out on one of the other passions of my life, football.” Hunt was running a scrap metal businesses in Cambridgeshire when he first joined Cambridge United in April, 1990. “Just six weeks later I was sat in the Royal Box at Wembley, watching Cambridge United bear Chesterfield 1-0 in the first ever play-off final at Wembley. Dion Dublin scored the winning goal. You can’t get much better than that and you can’t buy that sort of experience.” Hunt is philosophical about the rest of his Cambridge United experience. The club went into decline both on and off the field. Cambridge dropped out of the Football League and then went in administration. He reflected: “At about that time, my wife who was from Swansea, suggested moving to West Wales. It was a 500-mile commute to Cambridge to see football matches and attend board meetings, so not easy by any stretch of the imagination.” After Hunt finished his association with Cambridge, he was approached by Carmarthen Town President Jeff Thomas to help the Welsh Premier League side. “I have plenty of experience of the rough and tumble world of running a Football League club, so I try to bring some of that experience to bear in helping Carmarthen Town. “The club is well run by an enthusiastic team of people. Budgets are tight, but Carmarthen Town is a progressive club working very hard to nurture young talent in the community. “Football is one of my passions and I think it’s very important in life to care passionately about what you do. I try to carry that through in the different areas of my business life. Carmarthenshire is a great place and I am very fortunate to be running several businesses which bring me great delight.”